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August 17th, 2018

Vista Outdoor’s PLM Adventure – What Next?

Vista Outdoor is a leading American designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative outdoor products with a brand portfolio that includes Federal Premium®, CamelBak®, Bushnell®, Bollé® and many others. In 2016, Vista Outdoor acquired BRG Sports’ Action Sports division.

BRG Sports, which includes the Bell and Giro brands among others, selected Centric Software as their PLM partner in 2011. Back then, Centric PLM was on version 4.8. Today, as Vista Outdoor prepares to update the BRG Sports portfolio of brands to Centric 8 PLM V6.3, Rebecca Rohrer reflects on the changes Centric PLM has brought to Vista Outdoor.

Image courtesy by Vista Outdoor

Q. You’re about to upgrade to a newer version of Centric PLM. Why is it important to your company to keep evolving with the most recent PLM features?

A. We originally implemented Centric PLM about six years ago, so we’re on a much older release that was configured for a completely different company than who we we are today. At that time we had more brands and BRG Sports was called Easton-Bell Sports.

We developed this system and processes for the lowest common denominator – by that, I mean processes that would fit across all of our different brands, with their various business models and sales channels. Back then, we had Riddell football helmets, Easton hockey and baseball gear, and action sports brands. Today we mainly focus on making gear and apparel for action sports such as cycling and powersports, and snow protective helmets and accessories. Our old processes don’t really work for us now.

Q. What are your expectations when updating to the latest Centric release?

A. The important thing will be to continue to focus on making data a single source of truth, which will enhance the current processes. We’re looking forward to adding some functionality – perhaps adding BOM functions, which we don’t currently use.

We will also put an emphasis on further training. As the upgraded system will be more friendly to the processes we’re doing today, it will allow us to continue developing our database and making it a sole, reliable source of truth.

Image courtesy by Vista Outdoor

Q. Do you expect to streamline your processes? Speed time to market? Control your costs better?

A. We certainly expect some of those outcomes, but everything revolves around the master data. Better data means fewer mistakes, which will improve time to market. It will also have an effect on simple things such as reducing errors in printed catalogs.

There’s a lot of opportunity for improvement in costing. We enter quotes into PLM at the moment and have a pretty robust quotes system, but we will be able to put in more detailed costing and understand the material components.

Q. So it’s more about standardizing, digitizing and evolving your product development process?

A. Yes, and it’s also about further engaging people to use the system. The original processes were not written for who we are now.

Image courtesy by Vista Outdoor

Q. What kind of successes have you had with Centric PLM so far?

A. We have had great success with style and SKU creation. We used to do it on spreadsheets and it now all happens in PLM, so we have a master database that allows us to create more styles, faster. We have also been able to transition data ownership to the right people. Instead of making data the preserve of the master data team, it’s now accessible to the product developers and product teams who are actually developing these SKUs.

Q. You mentioned that you have a lot of brands. How do you plan on upgrading everyone? Brand by brand, role by role?

A. We’ll do it all together. We have fewer brands than we did six years ago – there are now six brands in this division, whereas before it was closer to ten. It makes sense for all of us to move together because of the way we operate now. We’ll be migrating from our current system, where we’re all on the same release and following the same processes, to the latest release.

Q. Was changing your PLM vendor ever an option?

A. We never considered it. We’ve been very pleased with the partnership and the support from Centric.

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